Current Affairs in Short: 8 February 2019

RBI cuts Repo Rate, Reverse Repo Rate in Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2018-19

• The Reserve Bank of India in its Sixth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2018-19 reduced Repo Rate by 25 basis points to 6.25 percent.
• RBI's six-member Monetary Policy Committee also brought down Reverse Repo Rate to 6 percent.
• The repo rate is the rate at which the Reserve Bank lends short-term money to the banks, while the reserve repo rate is the rate at which the central bank borrows money from commercial banks.
• It was the first policy review by the RBI after appointment of its Shaktikanta Das as Governor in December 2018.
• The inflation had fallen to 18-month low of 2.19 percent in December 2018 and was expected to remain in the range of 3.2 - 3.4 percent in April - September 2019.
• The GDP growth rate is expected to be at 7.4 percent in fiscal 2019-20.

Bills introduced in US House and Senate to remove per-country green card limits

• The lawmakers in the US House of Representatives and the Senate introduced legislations to end per-country green card limit.
• Once passed, the Bills will benefit hundreds and thousands of Indian professionals on H-1B visas waiting to gain permanent legal residency in the US.
• Top companies from the Silicon Valley like Google and corporate bodies such as US Chambers of Commerce are backing the legislations.
• The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
• The United States currently makes 140000 green cards available every year to employment-based immigrants. However, the existing law provides that not more than 7 percent of these green cards can go to nationals of any one country.

Google Doodle celebrates Ferdinand Runge’s 225th birthday

• Google Doodle honours Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, a German chemist who analysed the chemical composition of coffee beans and isolated its active ingredient.
• He also studied the belladonna plant and identified its pupil dilating effects.
• He obtained his doctorate from the University of Berlin, and taught at the University of Breslau till 1831.
• In 1855, while conducting his experiments he noticed certain reagents precipitating on blotting paper. This was further studied by German chemist Raphael E. Liesegang and named as Liesegang rings.
• Runge also invented a method to extract sugar from beet juice and was among the scientists who worked towards the isolation of the malarial drug, quinine.
• He passed away on March 25, 1867.

Sailesh assumed charge as Secretary of Ministry of Minority Affairs

• Sailesh assumed the charge as Secretary of Ministry of Minority Affairs on February 7, 2019.
• Sailesh is an IAS Officer of Assam-Meghalaya Cadre of 1985 batch.
• The Minister of Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi took meeting with the Secretary and other senior officers of the Ministry and reviewed progress of scheme implementation for the welfare of minorities.

Ujjwala Utsav observed; PMUY anthem ‘Ujjwala Bharat Ujjwala’ released

• The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas observed the Ujjwala Utsav to celebrate the stellar role played by all stakeholders such as district nodal officers, policy makers, distributors and beneficiaries in making Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) a success.
• The event was organised to encourage, motivate as well as felicitate all frontline field force for their outstanding contribution to PMUY.
• The occasion also saw the launch of the PMUY anthem ‘Ujjwala Bharat Ujjwala’, composed and developed by eminent singer Padma Shri Kailash Kher.
• The PMUY anthem is available on online music platforms such as Amazon, Apple, Hungama, Wynk, Google Play, Saavn, and many others.
• The anthem aims to reach the Ujjwala message to every household in  the country  by its powerful and inspiring rendition.

Prime Minister lays the foundation stone for a National Highways Project in West Bengal

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the four laning of the Falakata-Salsalabari section of NH -31 D in the northern part of West Bengal.  
• This 41.7 km long section of National Highways falls in the Jalpaiguri district of the West Bengal and will be constructed at a cost of about Rs 1938 Crore.
• The project will reduce the distance from Salsalabari and Alipurduar to Siliguri by nearly 50 km.
• This is significant as better access to Siliguri means better access to railways and airways.
• The National Highway will facilitate better movement of tea and other agricultural produce from the region to markets.
• The National Highway will incorporate all necessary safety features to provide relief to road users.
• There will be 3 railways over bridges, 2 flyovers, 3 vehicular underpasses, 8 major bridges and 17 minor bridges on this section of National Highway.

Sena medals awarded to 92 army men, including Lance Naik Wani

• Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, GOC-in-C of Northern Command presented the Sena medals to 92 army men at an investiture ceremony for their gallantary and distinguised services.
• 76 medals were presented for gallatry services, 7 medals for distinguised services and 8 for Vishist Seva.
• Lance Naik Nazir Ahmed Wani, a recipient of Ashok Chakra was also awarded Bar to Sena Medal poshthumously which was received by his wife.
• 20 units of the army were also awarded appreciation for their outstanding performance in the Command Theatre in 2018.

Dinkar Gupta takes over charge of DGP Punjab

• Dinkar Gupta took over the charge of Director General of the Punjab Police.
• He took over the charge as DGP from Suresh Arora at a simple ceremony at the Punjab Police headquarters at Chandigarh.
• He promised of providing a safe and secure environment to the citizens of the state, while listing counter-terrorism as the top priority for the force.
• Declaring zero tolerance against drug abuse during his first meeting with officers, Dinkar Gupta said he would implement DAPO and Buddy programmes in letter and in spirit.

Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu flags off Arunachal leg of Startup India Yatra

• Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu flagged off the Arunachal leg of the Startup India Yatra from civil secretariat in Itanagar.
• The Startup Yatra van will travel across the state with two Boot camps and 4 van stops to provide a platform to entrepreneurs at grassroots to pitch their ideas.
• The yatra will create awareness among the youths on government’s policy for startups, startup India and other schemes aimed at supporting the entrepreneurs.
• It would go a long way in motivating the youths to take up self-employment activities to help in creating jobs.

PM to join programmes in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh & Tripura

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be joining programmes in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura and is looking forward to interacting with the people of these states.
• During his visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Prime Minister will launch the most awaited DD Arun Prabha Channel and inaugurate and lay foundation stones of various infrastructure projects.
• Modi will also address a public rally at Indira Gandhi Park in Itanagar.
• This will be the third visit of the Prime Minister to the state.

Prayagraj Kumbh Mela creates awareness on Cleanliness

• Prayagraj Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh is creating a huge awareness on Cleanliness.
• More than 1 lakh 20 thousand toilets have been erected across the Kumbh and nearby area.
• A huge cleanliness exhibition is also setup at Kumbh Mela; Swatchh Bharat Mission - Rural has set up the high tech exhibition in Sector 6 of the Mela.
• The exhibition contains digital platforms in the name of father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath including many others.
• The exhibition will be continued till March 4, the closing of the Kumbh Mela.

5th India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee Meet held in Delhi

• The 5th India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee Meeting was held in New Delhi.
• External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Affairs Minister of Bangladesh Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen co-chaired the meeting.
• The two sides signed agreements after the meeting.
• The last Joint Consultative Committee Meeting between the two countries was held in October 2017 at Dhaka.
• The Foreign Affairs Minister of Bangladesh arrived in New Delhi on February 6, 2019 on a four day visit to India. It is the first high-level visit from Bangladesh since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's victory in the parliamentary elections in December 2018.

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